Yesterday, Keana took her first big field trip. In kindergarten they went somewhere local for a play, but yesterday the first graders hopped on charter buses and headed to Monterey Bay. We had thought about taking the rest of the family and meeting them there, but work and other factors prevented such a plan. As the field trip day got closer and closer, more and more parents were asking me if I was going. It was funny because I got the sense that the parents were more nervous than the kids. The kids were excited (or at least all the ones I talked to). It was almost as if the parents were checking in with the group to get a read on where everyone else was at with letting their kids go on this faraway adventure from home.
I didn’t really think much of it, but a couple days before the field trip I started asking myself, “Should I be more worried or nervous? Should I try harder to be a chaperone or make plans to meet them there?” This only lasted a second though and then I settled back down. Keana is such a great rule-follower that I knew she would stick with the group and be safe. But then my mind started racing to bus accidents and bad weather and, and, and. Shhhh. Quiet mind. I told myself it would be fine and let it go.
5:00 a.m. came much too soon (as it always does when you have to be somewhere early like that). Keana was so worried I wouldn’t get up, that I knew I couldn’t let her down. So I got right up and started trying to wake her. She was out. Eventually I got her to open her eyes and it didn’t take long for her to get going once she realized that it was finally time for the big adventure to the aquarium. It was still pitch dark outside as we pulled up to the school, and once she saw those big charter buses, she started bobbing up and down and said, “Hurry Papa, hurry! We gotta get on the bus!” I assured her they weren’t going anywhere and hadn’t even started loading yet since we were pretty early. This had zero affect on her. She was ready to go.
It was so much fun to see the kids hug each other upon arrival and jump up and down with excitement. The crowd of parents were almost as excited as the kids but we contained our hugs and jumps. I gave her a hug, said I loved her, and there was no hesitation boarding the giant charter bus and finding a seat. I stuck around to wave goodbye, though I couldn’t tell if she saw me through the tinted windows, but I stayed anyway, just in case.
The day went on and periodically it sunk in that our baby was 150 miles away and completely out of our grasp. I knew she was having a blast though and I imagined all the wonderful things she was seeing for the first time and all the fun she was having with her teacher and friends. I knew this was good for her, good for us, and a really amazing experience for a little six-year-old. It was such a great reminder how important it is to let your kids go sometimes and it was also a very small preview into the future.
When I picked her up from school I heard from her teacher that they stopped at McDonalds and Keana told them she had never been. They were all very surprised of course, and she proceeded to tell them that her papa won’t let her eat there because they chop down rain forests to feed their cattle. One of the kids said that wasn’t true and Keana responded, “Well, my dad is older than you so I think he knows better.” The kids then decided that maybe they should go somewhere else next year. Then of course she went on to say how her favorite food was really sushi and I just had to laugh. What do these Fresnoites think of us? Eh, who cares. It is what it is. She had an ice-cream cone though so that seemed like a good alternative.
When asked what her favorite fish were, she responded with jellyfish, octopus, and sunfish. Slowly, more and more details are coming out about the trip, but it’s clear that she learned lots, had a blast, and truly enjoyed the whole experience: from arriving at school in the dark morning, to riding the bus with her friends, to seeing all the animals in the aquarium, to yes, even McDonalds.